Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Jha, Manav Kaul, Ninad Kamath
Director: Prakash Jha
Poor villagers running around and open gypsies trailing them has become a trademark of Prakash Jha’s filmmaking.
So, it doesn’t come as a jolt when the Priyanka Chopra-starrer Jai Gangaajal opens on a similar note. In fact, it would have been surprising if Jai Gangaajal would have begun on a different track. And, of course, there would be a double-meaning song disguised as a folk song playing in the background. Well, this is what it takes to be Prakash Jha. You need to be commercial as well as niche in your approach. Isn’t this what he has been doing in Raajneeti, Aarakshan, Chakravyuh and Satyagrah?
IPS Abha Mathur (Priyanka) has been given the independent charge of Bankipur after five years of serving at the secretariat on CM-in-waiting Chaudhary’s (Kiran Karmarkar) insistence. But, these lucrative postings don’t come easy to honest cops and thus Abha gets a readymade challenge in the form of local MLA Babloo Pandey (Manav Kaul).
But, we know Jha and thus there has to be a social angle. Samanta Industries wants to buy land in order to inaugurate their new factory, but activists and some villagers are opposing the forceful acquisition. Now, the local administration has to take a stand, but that doesn’t seem possible in the current set-up where every cop is on Babloo Pandey’s pay-roll.
You must be remembering Gangaajal (2003) by now. And just to take all your doubts away, let me tell you that corrupt cops are led by circle officer Bhola Nath Singh (Prakash Jha) who still believes in the power of ‘khakee’. Did you just say Bachcha Yadav?
Yes, it’s a complete throwback to Gangaajal except Abha Mathur replacing Amit Kumar (Ajay Devgn) from the original. It’s another version of Gangaajal with a different starcast. Seeing Ajay Devgn as the current police commissioner was quite a possibility.
But, can this still be a good film?
It impresses in the beginning. We witness a ruthless ‘Chota Vidhayak’ Dabloo Pandey (Ninad Kamath) ruling the area with an iron feast. Wanted in many cases of extortion, rapes and murders, he sets the perfect stage for Priyanka’s arrival. She comes and takes things under her control within minutes. Such is her charm that you give Prakash Jha some room to repeat the Gangaajal characters for a while. A fight sequence brings out her grit and respect for constitution-bound law. It feels like the arrival of a savior, a star, but there begins the unfolding of BN Singh’s character.
Prakash Jha is the hero of Jai Gangaajal if screen time is our consideration. In any case, you need to spread wings to make a 158-minute film engaging. But, it has to be said that Jha has done justice to his role. He is restrained in dialogue delivery and really effective in emotional scenes. The narrative keeps dragging with strange terms such as ‘Madam Sir’ and ‘Suicide Murder’.
It seems the idea is to create an isolated world which is uncertain about its future and the usage of words. The constant urge to back these terms up with scenes also hampers the flow of the narrative. As a result, a powerful scene comes up and then vanishes into oblivion without providing a build-up to the next one. In the process, we get individual sequences that work on their own, but couldn’t gel as a whole.
The unilateral fight for justice goes on and on only to hit a familiar roadblock: How heroic should be the hero? And there’s a tussle between the director-actor Jha and Priyanka Chopra. Who said directing a star is easy!
The storyline of Jai Gangaajal doesn’t offer anything that you haven’t seen before. This holds true even if you have watched only Prakash Jha’s films. But, it has tear-inducing moments and Priyanka Chopra ensures they keep coming at regular intervals. Once again, the dark underbelly of the Hindi heart land has been explored with explosive dialogues and superficial sensibilities.
Jai Gangaajal is just another attempt at making a blockbuster, but it lacks the depth of Gangaajal and Apharan. Still, there’s enough for the audience to keep whistling and clapping. Priyanka Chopra is the new ‘Dabangg’.